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What Had Happened Was… a story of how one blogger tried to go self-hosted

Hey everyone!

Remember back the end of September and the beginning of October, when I was really excited to announce a big project I was taking on? How, come the beginning of November, I’d reveal all to you?

Yeah. About that…

My domain was about to expire, and I knew I needed to re-up it by the end of the month. I also knew that I wanted to keep growing my blog and gain some control over things like the SEO, the monetization, the layout, etc. While contemplating my plan, I’d also been researching about self-hosted sites, and how I could ~achieve greatness~ with my blog by gaining full control of my site though self-hosting.

I researched the pros and cons, stacking the WordPress.org vs WordPress.com plans against each other. I looked through host sites, and figured costs of start-up vs. ready made. I cruised through the jargon I didn’t understand assuming that I’d figure things out as I went, like I always have.

(I have this thing about directions- I don’t like them. I don’t like being told what to do. My inner control is a petulant child, DON’T JUDGE ME.)

Anyway… I made the leap. 16d6b033-4e21-474b-a820-da65e6f0b028

Everything I read basically said, if you want to be a professional blogger and do the job right and have full control, you have to go self-hosted. I want to be a real blogger, guys. So, I decided (even though it’s my busiest time of year and I really DON’T have time to create a website all willy-nilly…) it was now or never.

I decided to get a Bluehost plan (the middle-rate because I was committed to the idea of continuous growth, and didn’t want to limit myself right off the bat.) I took a few weeks importing my posts and images from The Lexington Bookie’s wordpress.com site, and what should have taken maybe a few hours took a week, because I didn’t import things correctly. And then, because of the whole thing about directions, I also didn’t ask for help. That was my first mistake.

After getting all the content together, putting together a theme, figuring out plug-ins, and painstakingly (ie. Type A personality) formatting everything for consistency, I couldn’t figure out how to make the site secure. I had a security plug-in, what the heck?

Turns out, I had to learn how to get my site security certificate.

And then, I had to do it again because why? I FORGOT TO TRANSFER MY DOMAIN.

Le sigh.

blogger_mercury_retrogradeAnd then, I BROKE MY SITE while trying to figure out how to transfer my domain.

Thank God for the internet because I managed to figure out how I broke it, swapped it back to the temp domain, and then got the transfer done properly. This is where I knew I was over my head. Like a trooper though, I knew I was out of my comfort zone and I was going to persist, DAMN IT.

I went through all the links and reset them so they weren’t a temp domain link (alllll the 404 errors… I apologize!), and things started looking up again. A light at the end of the tunnel… a happy little self-hosted, revamped blog.

I thought I had one more step- get all the images and headers complete.

I spent days redoing images, adding a copyright, resizing, etc. Then, when it came to uploading them, things wouldn’t upload, or would duplicate, or would show one thumbnail as another image. I almost cried, guys. WHY! (mercury retrograde shadow period, that’s why…)

img_8769I needed help. Professional help. IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. I got a chat going with the happy techs at WordPress who, though initially stumped, figured out how to fix my images. Rushing, as I was T-minus a week from my planned launch date (Nov. 1), I threw headers up and got everything situated so I could soft launch.

I hit that launch button and guys, it was a beautiful thing… until I started clicking on links. And the links were pulling more 404s. AND THE INTERNET COULDN’T TELL ME WHY.

This is the sad part… I quit.

I was running out of time. My original site was struggling. Things were falling apart at the seams and I didn’t want my deadline to come up with the site showing nothing. This blog means a lot to me, and I work really hard on it. I know it’s just a hobby, but I’m proud of what I do here. So, rather than lose everything, I gave up on the self-host plan.

Instead, I went back to WordPress.com and jumped from my Premium plan to the Business Plan, doubled back through all my blog posts, revamped everything, spent hours at the library and Starbucks (because I have a hotspot for internet at my house and needed to bum some wi-fi) to get to where we are today.

Y’all, I’m beyond stressed and exhausted. I thought I was ready to take the leap.

However, as I learned from my almost month of researching, WordPress.org is like owning a house, and your girl here is a WordPress.com renter. I don’t know what it takes to functionally operate the back-end of a blog, and I can’t teach myself fast enough. So, in order to keep giving you all my best, I have to leave my site to the professionals in the background. 

Other things I learned from the experience:

  • Even though it seems financially easier (ie cheaper) to go self-hosted, the costs of many of the plug-ins rack up really fast. Even though they may start off as free, the upgrades and annual fees once the free trials have completed, multiplied by many plugins, quickly add up.
  • In comparison, the Business Plan ($25/month) isn’t that bad when it takes out all the guesswork of configuring security, maintenance, and all the best plug-ins.
  • I did learn how how to utilize more of the WordPress Dashboard. When it comes to the background stuff, sometimes that is easier to use than the simple customization dashboard.
  • Despite the frustration, I did learn things while going through the process, and maybe someday in the future if I need to go self hosted (and with proper research and time to learn) I could go at the process again, perhaps with success!

Now, it’s the day before I planned to launch a wonderful new site. However, it’s not the site I expected to reveal, nor did the process go according to plan. But you know what? I am extremely proud of what you are seeing here, right now, because I know it’s still a step above where it was last month, and it’s only going up from here.

I will be continuing to make subtle changes throughout the site- adding links, new headers, that kind of thing. But in the general sense, the Business Plan is my final destination, and I think it will give me the freedom I want but the security and maintenance I need. I’ll be able to keep focusing on growing the content, as well as the reach of this blog. So, consider this the launch!

Welcome (back) to my “new” site!!

Thank you for all your words of encouragement and for hanging in there with me on this short little discovery journey. I sincerely hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Growth & Discussion

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6 replies

  1. Oh Amanda! My Blogger Heart was hanging on your every word…feeling the frustration…angst….panic! I know how important your blog is to you and how hard you work at it! Thanks for sharing your process! It’s helped us all!

  2. Congratulations!💕 I’m really excited for your new your new journey💕❤️

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  1. October Monthly Wrap-Up - The Lexington Bookie
  2. November Monthly Wrap Up - The Lexington Bookie

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